Soon after the Mitchell Report came out last week linking former Houston Astros pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte to using steroids or performance enhancing drugs, the two Houston natives copped opposite pleas.

Pettitte fessed up and admitted using human growth hormone on two occasions to help heal faster from an elbow injury in 2002, before it was banned by major league baseball in 2005.

The report alleges that Clemens and Pettitte were given performance-enhancing drugs by trainer Brian McNamee, who worked for the Toronto Blue Jays while Clemens was with the team.

“In 2002 I was injured,” Pettitte told the Houston Chronicle last week. “I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow. I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone.

“Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped,” Pettitte continued. “This is it—two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list. If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize.”
Clemens, on the other hand, has vehemently denied ever using steroids or performance enhancing drugs during his brilliant major league career.

According to a story appearing in last Friday’s Houston Chronicle, Clemens and Pettitte had to defend themselves in Atlanta on the final day of the 2006 season when an Oct. 1 Los Angeles Times report claimed they were in the search-warrant affidavit given by former major leaguer Jason Grimsley.

But the affidavit was unsealed Thursday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward C. Voss and found the Times report also erroneously stated that Grimsley claimed that new Astros Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons “took anabolic steroids.”

According to Clemens attorney Rusty Hardin’s written statement, “When this grossly inaccurate story broke in October, 2006, Roger said it was untrue and the Los Angeles Times chose not to believe him.

“As the record now clearly proves, Roger was telling the truth then, just as he continues to tell the truth today. Roger Clemens did not take steroids, and anybody who says he did had better start looking for a hell of a good lawyer,” Hardin’s terse statement continued.

“Roger has been repeatedly tested for these substances and he has never tested positive. There has never bee one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances, and yet he is being slandered today,” Hardin concluded.

Grimsley was a former Yankees teammate of Clemens and Pettitte who gave his affidavit on May 31, 2006 to Jeff Novitzky, an IRS special agent for criminal investigation, according to The Chronicle’s article.

Judge Voss made his disgust clear while chastising the Times in his order to unseal it. “The article trumpets the success of the Times in ending the ‘months of speculation’ surrounding which major league ballplayers Jason Grimsley named as using performance enhancing drugs,” Voss wrote.

“Citing anonymous sources, the article indicated the Times was allowed to see the affidavit briefly and that portions otherwise redacted, were read aloud. From this the Times reported that Grimsley links Roger Clemens to performance-enhancing drugs.

“A review of the disclosed affidavit proves that the Times never saw the unredacted affidavit. Roger Clemens is not named in the affidavit and Grimsley makes no reference to Roger Clemens in any context. At best, the article is an example of irresponsible reporting. At worst, the ’facts’ reported were manufactured,” Voss’ report concluded.

McNamee, who claims in the Mitchell Report that he injected Clemens with steroids and provided him with human growth hormone, is prominently mentioned in Grimsley’s affidavit, but Grimsley doesn’t mention Clemens or Pettitte in it.

It appears to this Korner that Clemens’ biggest problem in this scenario to clear his name is the status of McNamee and the attitude of Clemens, himself, who has remained mum throughout this ordeal until last weekend when he posted a video repeating his denials and plans to appear on “60 Minutes” to answer allegations against him in the Mitchell Report.

“Let me be clear, the answer is no. I did not use steroids or human growth hormone and I’ve never done so,” Clemens said. “I did not provide Brian McNamee with any drugs to inject into my body. Brian McNamee did not inject steroids or human growth hormones into my body when I played in Toronto for the Blue Jays or the New York Yankees. This report simply is not true.

“After Christmas, I’m going to sit down with Mike Wallace of ’60 Minutes,’ and I’ll do an interview and he’ll ask me a ton of questions on this subject and I’ll answer them right there in front of him,” Clemens said.

McNamee claims to have injected Clemens with steroids in 1998 while with the Toronto Blue Jays, and in 2000 and 2001 while with the Yankees. McNamee also claimed he injected Clemens with Human Growth Hormone in 2000.

And one must remember that McNamee was granted immunity for cooperating with prosecutors and with Mitchell. He would face criminal charges if he were found to have lied.

The big question in our mind is why would McNamee tell the truth about Pettitte and concoct this story about Clemens?

KWICKIES…Undefeated (16-0) Celina won the Class 3A, Division II state championship Saturday by beating China Spring 21-14. China Spring defeated Waco La Vega, who nipped West Orange-Stark 20-12 in the regional semifinals. Katy finished its season 16-0 and won its fifth state championship, beating Pflugerville 28-7 in Class 5A Div. II. Munday (15-0) also finished the season undefeated by winning the Class A Div. II state title over Bremond, 26-6. Highland Park (15-1) suffered its first setback of the season, losing the Class 4A Div. II championship game to Lake Travis 36-34.

Sunday night football featured a couple of big upsets as the Washington Redskins invaded the Metrodome and prevented Minnesota from clinching a playoff berth. The ‘Skins dominated the six-point favored Vikings 32-21 to remain alive in the playoffs. In the Hawaii Bowl 11-point underdog East Carolina (7-5) jumped ahead of Boise State, lost the lead and then Ben Hartman kicked a 34-yard field goal to win 31-28 as time expired.

The No. 4-ranked Texas Longhorns men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season Saturday losing to No. 9 Michigan State 78-72 at Auburn Hills, Mich. The ‘Horns joined the Texas Aggies with identical 11-1 records after 14th-ranked A&M whipped California-Irvine 88-66.

JUST BETWEEN US…The final week of the 2007 NFL season could present some problems for the league overseers with some teams whose playoff status cannot change are playing opponents who need to win or are out of the postseason picture. Our Dallas Cowboys, who have the home field for the entire playoffs, entertain the Washngton Redskins, who must win to nail down the final NFC wild card. The same is true for Indianapolis, who hosts Tennessee, a team that must win. An Indianapolis victory would give Cleveland an AFC wild card. If these teams rest several of their starters and lose, it could draw the attention of league officials. New England at the New York Giants on Saturday may not fall into this category because the Pats want to be the first team in history to finish the regular season 16-0, while the Giants clinched an NFC wild card with their 38-21 victory at Buffalo Sunday.